Wabash Blogs Immersion 2008: Glee Club in California

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San Franciscan Exploits

Tian Tian '11 - It still seems like yesterday that I first saw the name of San Francisco in an English language training textbook called “East-West” when I was a middle school lad in China. And now, I'm sitting right by the window in my room on the 10th floor at a Comfort Inn, with the Golden Gate Bridge in my sight. This tour to San Francisco is a lot different from any of my previous vacations because I am on the Wabash College Glee Club 2008 Concert Tour. This makes me feel pride. Why? Just ask the passengers of the MUNI [municipal] bus this morning who got to hear our Glee Club singing “Down by the Sally Garden” and they will give you a satisfying answer. They wanted encore……


After an exhausting half-semester at Crawfordsville, I finally get to relax—and this tour surely add bonus to the way I relax myself. I remember vividly how excited we Glee Club brothers were when we left the San Francisco airport. “We are showering in the warm sunshine of California,” some of us claimed. The city itself has such a relaxing nature. Even though the traffic is as busy as Chicago’s, I do not feel rushed by the pace of the traffic at all. I assume that it is the character of this city. The trees on both side of the streets blossom with different flowers that give each avenue a unique aroma. After a tour to the Fisherman’s Wharf this afternoon, Scott Pond and I paid a visit to Chinatown, something which I longed for. However, I was as confused as Scott when we got there. Most Chinese residents here in San Francisco speak Cantonese, whereas I speak Mandarin! It took at least three minutes for us to understand a souvenir storekeeper’s explanation of how to get to the best restaurant that serves the most authentic Sichuan food because he used a mixture of Cantonese and English with strong accent. Fortunately, Scott and I found that restaurant and we had some real fancy food that Scott described as the Best Chinese food he had ever eaten. I told Scott, “It might be easy for a Chinese restaurant here to satisfy an American stomach, but it is rather hard to satisfy a native Chinese’s stomach. But my stomach feels satisfied tonight”.


Timothy Closson '09 - This morning we went by bus to St Dominic’s Church for rehearsal. While on the way there, we broke into song for the first time. When we got off the bus, there was some confusion about whether or not the bus driver was mad at us for singing. He had said something over the speaker while we were singing, but it turned out that he was just announcing the stops. At St Dominic’s, we used the choir’s rehearsal room and also sang several songs in the sanctuary. It was inspiring to see such a grand and traditionally structured church. We will be returning two more times to rehearse here. I’m excited to do this since I was unable to look at all the details I wanted to see this morning.


During our free time today, a friend and I visited other Catholic Churches in the area of northern San Francisco. We walked to Sts. Peter and Paul, about 20 minutes east of our hotel. We built a day of memories, both new ones here in San Francisco and old ones from exploring Catholic churches in New York City. We visited a total of four churches today during our free time and did a lot of walking between them. We also stopped at a really good pizzeria and had a late lunch. It was really a “New York experience” here in San Francisco this afternoon.


We met up with another group from the Glee Club and found an all-you-can-eat sushi bar. We were there for an hour and a half, and all ate as much as we could! There was a great variety and I was able to find new types of food I really enjoy. We even received a portion of our dessert on the house. The long walk back to the hotel took us up Lombard Street, known as the “crooked street,” which is on a tall hill that is very steep. While the view from the top is awesome, the walk to get there is exhausting.


Justin Bilby '09 - Tuesday—the Wabash College Glee Club Spring Tour continues. After rehearsal at St. Dominic’s Church (for details, see blog entry by Tim Closson), the Glee Club visited the San Francisco Cable Car Barn and Museum. The cable cars of San Francisco are a major part of the city’s culture, and the museum was a great way for us to learn about it. We got to see the hub of the cable cars and how the wheels pull the entire cable throughout the whole line, taking the cars out and back. It was very interesting to read and learn about the history of this part of the city’s culture.


Following that, we had the rest of the day for free time to explore the city for ourselves. With some friends (Ben Harvill and Patrick Griffith), I took a walk around Ghirardelli Square and the Fisherman’s Wharf, two popular tourist areas of San Francisco. We had been at Fisherman’s Wharf the night before, but wanted to see it during the day while all the shops were open and street vendors out.


After our return trip to the Wharf, we had visited Patrick’s aunt, who works in the city. She has been a great help—asset really—to the Glee Club during our tour, and increasingly so as the tour continues. She offered to take us to Pacifica, a beach town just south of San Francisco, for a chance to see the Pacific Ocean in person, followed by dinner with a few more of Patrick’s family. The ocean view was amazing, and Patrick informed us that the water was cold, as he was the only one to enter the water. For dinner, I ordered a seafood combination plate, and it was absolutely fantastic!


On the way back to our hotel from Pacifica, Patrick’s Aunt Jeanne took us on a scenic tour of the city at night. We saw other popular tourist attractions such as AT&T Park where the SF Giants play, the Embarcadero, Coit Tower (for an evening view of the city in its lighted splendor), Lombard Street (the ‘crookedest’ street in the world), and then a quick trip through Chinatown.